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Film preview: Rochester International Film Festival 

Many young filmmakers get their start directing short films. Yet, outside of festivals or the occasional cartoon in front of the latest animated blockbuster, there's not many opportunities left for audiences to see short films on the big screen. The chance to see what the next generation of filmmakers are creating is just one of the things that makes the Rochester International Film Festival so special.

Now entering its 59th year (making it the longest continually-held short film festival in the world), this year's RIFF will screen 29 animated, comedy, drama, documentary, and experimental shorts by filmmakers from across the globe. The shorts will be presented in four separate programs across three days -- from Thursday, April 20, through Saturday, April 22 -- at the George Eastman Museum's Dryden Theatre. Adding to the screenings, several of the filmmakers will be in attendance to participate in Q&A sessions. Admission to the festival is free, though donations are encouraged. A complete schedule of films can be found at rochesterfilmfest.org.

Thursday, April 20, 8 p.m.

Striking ocean-front cinematography distinguishes Chris Fiorentini's "Generation Gap," a work about a young man attempting to make peace with his past after fleeing a stint at a nearby mental hospital.

The charming dramatic comedy "Après l'hiver (After Winter)," from Joachim Weissmann and Amandine Hinnekens, finds an elderly woman using a bit of deception to gain some companionship.

An ayahuasca-fueled hallucination helps a man face his fears and find love in the fantastical "Pounce," directed by Conor Chandler Simpson.

It's not difficult to guess where it's ultimately headed, but "Trunk Space" is a solidly effective thriller about what happens when two friends on a road trip across the desert make the ill-fated decision to pick up a stranded motorist.

The funny "Going Public" finds an amorously deprived husband and wife doing their best to recapture their adventurous life, which has recently taken a backseat to raising a baby.

Friday April 21, 8 p.m.

In the Italian drama "Una Bellissima Bugia (A Beautiful Lie)," a young man confined to a wheelchair has a chance meeting with a stranger who may end up changing the course of his life forever.

A man and woman forge a connection while waiting for the bus on a rainy evening in David Sanz and Tony López's lovely "La Parada (The Stop)."

Set in the waiting room of a doctor's office, the Iranian comedy "Mwah" peeks in on the conversations between several expectant mothers' unborn children, with a "Look Who's Talking"-style.

Struggling to work up the courage to talk to his pretty neighbor, a shy New Yorker gets an unexpected assist from an alarming radio transmission in the 1930's-set "The Suitor."

In "Riding the Highline," poetry-writing brothers Kai and Anders Carlson-Wee document their adventurous experiences jumping freight trains along the Burlington Highline route.

Saturday April 22, 4 p.m.

In "Stutter," a father with a debilitating speech impediment is determined to make his son proud and mend their strained relationship when he's asked to speak in front of the teen's class on Career Day.

Despite the anger of his competitors, a street vendor in China takes inspiration from the King of Pop to connect with his young daughter in the sweet "Pancake Jackson."

The Taiwanese drama "Dots" follows a teenage girl with fading vision who goes to great lengths to help her mother see the world through her eyes.

A young girl must adjust to life with her father when he returns from combat a changed man in the powerful Australian drama "The Ravens." Cinematographer John Brawley's 35mm photography is absolutely gorgeous.

Saturday April 22, 8 p.m.

"Molasses & Lemon" features testimonials from people doing their best to describe the sensation of falling both in and out of love.

In the somber "The Promise," a young boy is faced with some difficult decisions when his parents leave him on his own while they go off in search of work.

After being named the Most Average Israeli by the country's Central Bureau of Statistics, a man's life takes a most abnormal turn in the hilarious "An Average Story."

Director and choreographer Ben Hartley's "Early Mourning" is a tender and sensual exploration of death and loss told through dance.

Short and sweet, "All the World's a Stage" features cleverly stylized animation by director Hannes Rall as he illustrates the famous monologue from Shakespeare's "As You Like It."

Check back on Friday for additional film coverage, including a review of "Gifted," starring Chris Evans, Jenny Slate, and Octavia Spencer.

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